Is it possible to install a .pkg using a terminal ? (I wanted to install an app through ssh).

3 Answers 3



The installer command is used to install Mac OS X installer packages to a specified domain or volume. The installer command installs a single package per invocation, which is specified with the -package parameter ( -pkg is accepted as a synonym). It may be either a single package or a metapackage. In the case of the metapackage, the packages which are part of the default install will be installed unless disqualified by a package's check tool(s).

See man installer for the full functionality. Often

sudo installer -pkg /path/to/package.pkg -target /

is all that's needed. The target is a "device" (see the man page for details or run installer -dominfo). Here / is the main drive, it also accepts devices like "/Volumes/Macintosh HD", or /dev/disk0.


Just in case it's needed; if you want to installer a .pkg without root access:

installer -pkg myapp.pkg -target CurrentUserHomeDirectory

will install the package in ~/Applications.


Install all .pkg files from the current folder to /Applications (or whatever target folder is configured in the package):

for f in *.pkg; do
    sudo installer -verbose -pkg "$f" -target /

As an alternative you can install the packages to your home folder with -target ~. They will end up in /Users/<your_account>/Applications unless a specific path is predefined in the installer.

If you want to see which specific folders a pkg installer writes to and which post-install scripts will be run then check out SuspiciousPackage (freeware, can be installed with brew install --cask suspicious-package), and use quick preview from Finder when a .pkg file is selected. Pressing spacebar in Finder with the selected file should work too. A similar shareware (nagware) app — Pacifist, can be used for inspecting and unpacking dmg/pkg and other container formats.

Handling files with spaces and special characters

While the for f in *.xyz syntax looks 'clean' and neat, it is considered bad practice in bash because it is likely to fail on file names with spaces, quotes and other special chars. A more foolproof approach is to use find, e.g.

sudo -i

find . -iname "*.pkg" -maxdepth 1 -exec installer -verbose -pkg {} -target / \;

Note:-maxdepth 1 forces find to only search for files in the current folder and avoid traversing the nested subfolders.

  • 5
    This doesn't necessarily install to /Applications - it depends on the package, for example PowerShell for macOS installs to /usr/local.
    – RichVel
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 8:21
  • I've put this in an answer as well, but -target CurrentUserHomeDirectory is what I've used successfully for Microsoft Edge and Logitech Camera Settings app.
    – RCross
    Commented Jun 29, 2020 at 8:17

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